As excuses go this one's pretty feeble, up there with "the dog ate my homework".
General Saint Petraeus* appeared on yet another rightwing propoganda vehicle, Fox News Radio's "Alan Colmes Show," to claim that tens of thousands of US-provided weapons went missing in Iraq because of clerical errors in Iraqi units.
"That type of decision was something that we made at the time because those forces needed those weapons and that equipment," Petraeus told Colmes. "We weren't going to stay there in the dark and make guys do a serial-number inventory and sign them up, and that is what happened. We believe those weapons all certainly were given to Iraqi units.""Pet General" also believes in the tooth-fairy and Father Christmas.
The excuse wouldn't be quite so feeble if the GAO didn't clearly say the problem was more widespread than simply being "overlooked in the heat of battle".
Iraqi security forces were virtually nonexistent in early 2004, and in June of that year Petraeus was brought in to build them up. No central record of distributed equipment was kept for a year and a half, until December 2005, and even now the records are on a spreadsheet that requires three computer screens lined up side by side to view a single row, Christoff said.I'd like to see the military put a total cost figure on this clerical error, wouldn't you? A rough calculation is that 110,000 AK-47's, at the usual nation-to-nation arms deal price of @$380 each, works out to a $42 million clerical error - plus the price of the tens of thousands of pistols and all that body armor, none of which is cheap. I'm betting that someone, somewhere, pocketed more than a little of that money.
The GAO found that the military was consistently unable to collect supporting documents to "confirm when the equipment was received, the quantities of equipment delivered, and the Iraqi units receiving the equipment." The agency also said there were "numerous mistakes due to incorrect manual entries" in the records that were maintained.
* As a matter of formal ettiquette, should he be addressed as "Saint General Petraeus" or as "General Saint Petraeus"? Anyone got a copy of Miss Manners handy?